British pop/rock group
Squeeze, a British band whose songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have been favorably compared to superstar composing team John Lennon and Paul McCartney, has been in existence since 1975. Though the group has garnered large amounts of critical favor for its new wave and pop sound almost ever since that time, it was only in 1987 that they scored their first Top 40 hit in the United States with “Hourglass,” from the album Babylon and On. But popular success has not caused a reduction in the number of Squeeze’s laudatory reviews. As Mark Coleman put it in Rolling Stone, “Squeeze [is]… the great white hope of thinking-people’s pop.”
Difford and Tilbrook began writing songs together in the early 1970s. After creating quite a few tunes, they looked for a band to back them up. In 1975 the duo, both of whom played guitar, formed a group with keyboardist Julian Holland, drummer Gilson Lavis, and bass player Harry Kakoulli. They initially called themselves U.K. Squeeze, and just over a year after the band’s inception they had landed a recording contract
Formed in 1975, disbanded in 1982, reformed in 1985; originally called UK Squeeze; present members include:Chris Difford (born August 31, in the U.K.; lyricist, guitarist, and occasional vocals); Glenn Tilbrook (born November 4, in the U.K.; composer, guitarist, and vocalist); Julian “Jools” Holland (born in the U.K.; keyboardist); Gilson Lavis (born in the U.K., drummer); Keith Wilkinson (bass guitarist). Past members have included Harry Kakoulli, Paul Carrack, John Bentley, and Don Snow.
Recording artists and concert performers, 1976-82, 1985—.
Addresses: Record company —A&M, 1416 La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028.
with A&M Records. Squeeze’s debut album, U.K. Squeeze, immediately scored them a Top 10 hit in England with the cut “Take Me, I’m Yours,” but even after the album and single were released in the United States in 1978, the band did not get much in the way of popular attention. Favorable critical attention, however, Squeeze received in plenty; reviewer’s lauds only increased with the advent of the group’s second and third albums, Cool for Cats and Argy Bargy. Noteworthy cuts from these efforts included “Up the Junction” and “Slap and Tickle” from the former, and “Pulling Mussels” and “If I Didn’t Love You” from the latter.
Squeeze’s U.S. exposure was increased when the band was befriended by popular new wave musician Elvis Costello; he featured Squeeze as his warm-up act for his 1981 concerts in the United States. But at about the same time, Squeeze was experiencing important personnel changes. Kakoulli had left the band two years before to be replaced by John Bentley; Julian Holland left to be replaced by Paul Carrack. Carrack’s vocals were featured in Squeeze’s 1981 hit “Tempted,” which, although it did not make a Top 40 position on the U.S. pop charts, was nevertheless an important breakthrough in gaining the band an audience in that country.
“Tempted” was only one of many critically acclaimed tracks on Squeeze’s 1981 album, East Side Story; the group’s 1982 effort, Sweets From a Stranger, produced another near hit in the United States—the thoughtful “Black Coffee in Bed.” But on Sweets From a Stranger Carrack had already been replaced by yet another keyboard player, Don Snow. As Tilbrook told Coleman in Rolling Stone, “Snow was a brilliant pianist, but we’d just had one change too many at that point. The whole internal structure of the band was falling apart.” Thus, in 1982, Squeeze announced that they were disbanding, several of its members citing the difficulties of working together with the other strong individuals who made up the group.
Difford and Tilbrook continued to compose and record together. Lavis found work as a cab driver, and Holland had become the host of a popular British television show featuring music videos. In 1984 Difford and Tilbrook habitually told reporters that they were completely finished with Squeeze, but in 1985 they were in search of backup musicians for a charity performance. In addition to Keith Wilkinson, who had served as bass player for the duo during their post-Squeeze period, they came up with Lavis and Holland. Tilbrook explained to Coleman: “When we did that charity gig, it was so obvious that we should get back together, I felt embarrassed. It took a couple of days of hesitant phone calls to establish that everyone felt the same way I did.”
The four former members, plus Wilkinson, reconstituted Squeeze. The band’s first comeback album was titled Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, symbolizing the fact that its musical influences range from classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to 1950s pioneer rocker Little Richard. Though critics welcomed Squeeze’s return, most agreed that Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti seemed artificial and stilted compared to the group’s previous work. Babylon and On, released in 1987, fared much better. “Comeback albums aren’t supposed to eclipse a band’s original work, but Squeeze’s ‘Babylon and On’ comes pretty close,” a Stereo Review critic applauded. Eric Levin of People joyfully exclaimed; “Squeeze, it is a big thrill to report, is still inimitably, immutably, incorrigibly Squeeze.” In addition to the many rave reviews, however, the band finally broke the U.S. Top 40 with the bouncy hit single “Hourglass.”
Still together in 1990, Squeeze continued its winning ways with the album Frank. Michael Small of People labeled it “fine,” and singled out cuts like “Slaughtered, Gutted, and Heartbroken” and “Love Circles” for special praise.
U.K. Squeeze (includes “Take Me, I’m Yours”), A&M, 1978.
Cool for Cats (includes “Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction,” and “Slap and Tickle”), A&M, 1979.
Argy Bargy (includes “Pulling Mussels” and “If I Didn’t Love You”), A&M, 1980.
East Side Story (includes “Tempted,” “Labeled With Love,” “Heaven,” and “Vanity Fair”), A&M, 1981.
Sweets From a Stranger (includes “Black Coffee in Bed”), 1982.
Singles—45’s and Under, A&M, 1982.
Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, A&M, 1985.
Babylon and On (includes “Hourglass,” “Footprints,” “Tough Love,” “The Prisoner,” and “Trust Me to Open My Mouth”), A&M, 1987.
Frank (includes “Slaughtered, Gutted, and Heartbroken” and “Love Circles”), A&M, 1990.
People, November 2, 1987; January 8, 1990.
Rolling Stone, December 3, 1987; November 16, 1989.
Stereo Review, February, 1988.
Squeeze, innovative rock band. Membership: Chris Difford, voc, gtr. (b. London, England, April 11, 1954); is Difford, voc, gtr. (b. London, England, Aug. 31, 1957); Jools (real name, Julian) Holland, voc, kybd. (b. Jan. 24, 1958); Harry Kakouli, bs.; Gilson Lavis, drm. (b. Bedford, England, June 27, 1951). Other members included: John Bently, bs. (b. London, England, April 15, 1951); Paul Carrack, voc, kybd. (b. Sheffield, England, April 16, 1951); Don Snow, kybd., voc. (b. Kenya, Jan. 13, 1957); Keith Wilkinson, bs., voc. (b. Sept. 24, 1954); Kevin Wilkinson, drm. (b. Swindon, England, c. 1957; d. Baydon, England, July 22, 1999); Andy Metcalf, kybd.; Matt Irving, kybd.; Pete Thomas, drm. (b. Aug. 9); Ashley Soan, drm.; Chris Holland, kybd.; Chris Braide, kybd.; Hillare Penda, bs.
Although their membership roster reads like a revolving door, two elements anchor Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Together, they’ve written some of the pithiest songs ever to come out of a rock band. A great live band as well, at their height they could sell out arenas like N.Y.’s Madison Square Garden, although they released but one record that went gold and platinum.
Difford and Tilbrook met in the early 1970s, when Tilbrook answered an ad that Difford had posted looking for a songwriting partner. By 1974, they had put together a band to play the songs, including Gilson Lavis on drums, Jools Holland on keyboards, and Harry Kakouli on bass. Emerging in the pre-punk pub- rock days, they were compatriots of bands like Ducks Deluxe. Although their songs tended to be more highbrow, they were couched in tunes that were immediately infectious. Big Velvet Underground fans (their name derives from a Velvet’s album that features neither Lou Reed nor John Cale), they hooked up with Miles Copeland’s record company, who in turn hooked them up with Cale to produce some songs. These early recordings came out in 1977 as Packet of Three on the band’s own Depford Fun City Records.
When they came to America, they had to change their name to U.K. Squeeze to avoid confusion with a band called Tight Squeeze. Cale also produced their eponymous A&M debut album in 1978. It featured wonderful tunes like “Take Me I’m Yours” and the instrumental “Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil.” The group really broke through, as pop in the U.K. and as a college radio phenomenon in the U.S., with their 1979 album Cool for Cats. They also regained the right to call themselves Squeeze in the U.S. with the demise of Tight Squeeze. In the U.K., the bouncy, cockney inflected title track and the ballad—in the classic sense of the word—”Up The Junction” rose to #2. Those tunes also earned college and rock radio play in the U.S., along with the tongue in cheek “Slap and Tickle.”
The momentum built with 1980’s Argybargy. While the hits weren’t as impressive—“Another Nail in My Heart” and “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” were middling hits in the U.K.—those two songs along with “If I Didn’t Love You” and “Farfisa Beat” earned college and “new-wave” radio airplay in the U.S. The album actually landed in the bottom half of the U.S. Top 100. This set the stage for the Elvis Costello-produced East Side Story in 1981. Perhaps the band’s most consistent album, it also had some of their most serious songs. Holland had left the band, replaced by former Ace keyboard player Paul Carrack. He sang the song “Tempted,” which hit the U.S. Top 50, and “Labelled with Love” went into the British Top Ten.
Carrack left the band, replaced by former Sincero vocalist Don Snow for 1982’s Sweets from a Stranger. Although the record was uneven, on the strength of the rock radio hit (#51 pop) “Black Coffee in Bed,” the album became their highest U.S. charting record at #32. The band had its first sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. However, they still weren’t making any money. Added to that, Lavis was having trouble with his drinking, and the group was tired of spending over a hundred days a year on the road.
During this period in the early 1980s, Difford and Tilbrook made an album by that name, produced by Tony Visconti. They mounted a play, Labelled with Love, a theatrical piece with their songs. They wrote songs for other artists as well, with their former bandmate Holland cutting one of their tunes, along with Helen Shapiro and Paul Young. Ironically, the group’s best of, Singles 45 and Under, became the band’s best-selling album, eventually hitting platinum.
By 1985, they had begun to miss the band. They came together with Holland, Lavis, and the bass player from the Difford and Tilbrook album, Keith Wilkinson, for a charity gig and reformed the band. The comeback album, Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, was moderately successful, both artistically and financially. They took on a second keyboard man, Andy Metcalf from Robin Hitchcock and the Egyptians. Their next album, 1987’s Babylon and On, became the bands best record in terms of actually charting, and perhaps their most consistent since East Side Story. For the first time, the band landed not just one but two hits into the U.S. Top 40 (their only songs to make it there): “Hourglass,” a funky, fun tune, rose to #15 thanks to heavy play on MTV; the follow-up, “853–5937” hit #32. The album made it to #36.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize on this success. 1989’s Frank, despite having strong songs like “She Doesn’t Have to Shave,” stiffed. A&M dropped the group while they were touring to support the album. Holland left the band to work on his own music projects and his burgeoning career as a host on BBC TV. The group put out a live album on Copeland’s 1RS records. By the time they were ready to record another studio album, they were signed to Reprise records. Rather than replace Holland right away, they used former Elvis Costello collaborator Steve Nieve, Bruce Hornsby, and Matt Irving on keyboards. However, while they were recording, grunge emerged as the new sound of young America and Reprise was not prepared to promote the record in that environment. When the band went out on tour, they brought back Don Snow and hired Carol Isaacs to play keyboards. Difford and Tilbrook also began to play acoustic duet dates. This led to an appearance on MTV, the first edition of their series of “Unplugged” concerts.
Between albums, Gilson Lavis went to play with Jools Holland’s big band. Former Attractions drummer Pete Thomas joined the band along with the return of vocalist Carrack. The band resigned to A&M for 1993’s Some Fantastic Place, which rose to the mid 20s on the U.K. chart, but didn’t make any waves in the U.S. They lost Thomas to Elvis Costello again, and hired former China Crisis drummer Kevin Wilkinson (no relation to Keith). Another strong effort, 1995’s Ridiculous generated a couple of minor English hits and again was largely ignored in the U.S. With their A&M contract ended, Difford and Tilbrook hired Holland’s brother Chris to play keyboards, former Del Amitri drummer Ashely Soan, and bassist Hilaire Penda to record Domino for a U.K. indie in 1998. The album never came out in the U.S. A live album followed.
Packet of Three (1977); U.K. Squeeze (1978); Cool for Cats (1979); Argybargy (1980); East Side Story (1981); Sweets from a Stranger (1982); Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985); Babylon and On (1987); Frank (1989); A Round & A Bout (live; 1990); Play (1991); Some Fantastic Place (1993); Ridiculous (1995); Domino (1998); Live at Royal Albert Hall (1999).
squeeze / skwēz/ • v. 1. [tr.] firmly press (something soft or yielding), typically with one's fingers: Kate squeezed his hand affectionately | [intr.] he squeezed with all his strength. ∎ [tr.] extract (liquid or a soft substance) from something by compressing or twisting it firmly: squeeze out as much juice as you can | [as adj.] (squeezed) freshly squeezed orange juice. ∎ [tr.] obtain (something) from someone with difficulty: a governor who wants to squeeze as much money out of taxpayers as he can. ∎ inf. pressure (someone) in order to obtain something from them: she used the opportunity to squeeze him for information. ∎ (esp. in a financial or commercial context) have a damaging or restricting effect on: the economy is being squeezed by foreign debt repayments. ∎ (squeeze off) inf. shoot a round or shot from a gun: squeeze off a few well-aimed shots. ∎ (squeeze off) inf. take a photograph: he squeezed off a half-dozen Polaroids. ∎ Bridge force (an opponent) to discard a guarding or potentially winning card. 2. [intr.] manage to get into or through a narrow or restricted space: Sarah squeezed in beside her he found a hole in the hedge and squeezed his way through. ∎ [tr.] manage to force into or through such a space: she squeezed herself into her tightest pair of jeans. ∎ [intr.] (squeeze up) move closer to someone or something so that one is pressed tightly against them or it: he guided her toward a seat, motioning for everyone to squeeze up and make room. ∎ [tr.] (squeeze someone/something in) manage to find time for someone or something: the doctor can squeeze you in at noon. ∎ [tr.] (squeeze someone/something out) force someone or something out of a domain or activity: workers have been squeezed out of their jobs. • n. 1. an act of pressing something with one's fingers: a gentle squeeze of the trigger. ∎ a hug. ∎ a state of forcing oneself or being forced into a small or restricted space: it was a tight squeeze in the tiny hall. ∎ dated a crowded social gathering. ∎ a small amount of liquid extracted from something by pressing it firmly with one's fingers: a squeeze of lemon juice. ∎ a strong financial demand or pressure, typically a restriction on borrowing, spending, or investment in a financial crisis: industry faced higher costs and a squeeze on profits. ∎ a molding or cast of an object, or an impression or copy of a design, obtained by pressing a pliable substance around or over it. ∎ inf. money illegally extorted or exacted from someone: he was out to extract some squeeze from her. ∎ Bridge a tactic that forces an opponent to discard an important card. ∎ (also squeeze play or suicide squeeze) Baseball an act of bunting a ball in order to enable a runner on third base to start for home as soon as the ball is pitched. 2. inf. a person's girlfriend or boyfriend: the poor guy just lost his main squeeze. PHRASES: put the squeeze on inf. coerce or pressure (someone).DERIVATIVES: squeez·a·ble adj. squeez·er n.
Squeeze ★★ 1997 (R)
Self-conscious but not unappealing first effort made on a shoestring budget, with a director who teaches acting at a Boston youth center and who wrote his script based on the lives of his three teeanged lead actors. Tyson (Burton), Hector (Cutanda) and Boa (Duong) lead aimless lives on Boston's meaner streets where trouble finds them despite their efforts to stay (more-orless) clear. 96m/C VHS, DVD . Tyrone Burton, Eddie Cutanda, Phuong Duong, Geoffrey Rhue, Russell Jones, Leigh Williams; D: Robert Patton-Spruill; W: Robert Patton-Spruill; C: Richard Moos; M: Bruce Flowers.
a crowded assembly or social gathering, 1779.
Examples : squeeze of books; of the fashionable mob, 1802.